Pic is Italy's official selection for Oscar gold

Lions Gate Films has picked up North American distribution rights to Italian Oscar entry “The Keys to the House,” from Lakeshore Entertainment.

Pic, directed by Gianni Amelio, premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is Italy’s official selection in the foreign-language Oscar race. The film is skedded to be released in Gotham and Los Angeles in December. RAI Cinema, Achab Film and Lakeshore produced the pic. Lakeshore Intl. is handling foreign sales at AFM.

“Keys” stars Charlotte Rampling, Kim Rossi Stuart and Andrea Rossi in the story of a young father who forges a relationship with his handicapped son whom he meets for the first time as a teenager. Pic, inspired by Giuseppe Pontiggia’s novel “Born Twice,” is Amelio’s fourth foreign-language Oscar entry following “Lamerica,” “Stolen Children” and “Open Doors.”

Lions Gate is also in negotiations to pick up North American distribution rights to Armada Pictures’ “Drive Thru.” Pic, which Armada and Lions Gate are co-producing and co-financing, will start shooting in January.

The film was written and will be directed by Shane Kuhn and Brendan Cowles. Martin Wiley, Chris Sievernich and Matt Milich produce with Prospect Pictures’ Matt Weaver. “Thru,” in the vein of “Halloween,” is a teen horror/thriller about the disappearance of teenagers in the sleepy beachside community of Blanca Carne, Calif. Armada Pictures Intl. is handling worldwide sales rights to the pic.

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